Give your marriage a makeover today

Could your marriage use a makeover? Discover the top five problems that plague couples and learn how to solve them.

By Yuki Hayashi

Has your marriage lost some wow factor?
Like any major investment, marriages need ongoing maintenance. Although it can be tempting to let relationship upkeep slide in the midst of competing responsibilities like child-rearing, career building, home improvements and other time-eaters, it’s crucial that couples take time to care for their partnership. With a little effort, you can give your marriage a makeover.

"Relationships take nurturing. Taking things for granted gets people in trouble over the long-term" says Mary Ann Majchrzak Rombach, therapist and founding director of the Assiniboine Family Therapy Institute in Invermere, B.C.

Has your marriage lost some of its wow factor? It's never too late to give it a makeover. Here are some common problems and therapist-approved fixes.

Problem area: Crazy misunderstandings.

Example:
"People make assumptions about what others are thinking, act on those assumptions, and go off on wild tangents," says Rombach. Misunderstandings are the number one cause of strife in the couples Rombach counsels.

How to fix it:
Stop assuming. Keep lines of communication open, give your partner the benefit of the doubt and use your words to raise concerns of ask for clarification.


Problem area:
Putting work – or kids – above the relationship.

Example:
You head to work at dawn and aren’t back 'til nighttime because work takes precedence. Or your "date nights" are filled with discussions of the baby because that’s the most compelling thing in your life right now. (Your relationship, meanwhile, comes in a distant third in priority, slightly above "tackle kitchen reno.")

How to fix it:
Re-examining your priorities and acting accordingly.

Rombach suggests couples "keep each other as the priority." While this advice may not sit well with all parents, the premise – that your most important relationship or relationships come before work – is sound. Make a priority pyramid and place your spouse – or your spouse and kids – on top. Either way, separate "couples time" from "parenting time," and be sure you and your partner recognize each other for the individuals you are, not just as co-parents.

"Couples that make each other the king and the queen of their universe are the happiest," says Rombach.


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